she has assembled unlawful thiasoi


Phryne was accused of asebia because she held a komos in the Lykeion. This is what Euthias, who prosecuted her, said: I have now proven that Phryne is impious because she has participated in scandalous revelry, because she has introduced a new God, and because she has assembled unlawful thiasoi of both men and women.
Works of the Attic Orators 2.320

Isodaites. Mentioned by Hypereides in his oration for Phryne. Some foreign daimon, in whose honor women of the lower classes, and particularly the ones that did not excel in virtue, used to hold teletai.
— Harpokration, Lexicon s.v. Isodaites

Now Phryne came from Thespiae. When she was brought to trial by Euthias on a capital charge she was acquitted; this so enraged Euthias that he never again pleaded another case at law, according to Hermippus. When Hypereides, who was defending Phryne, was making no progress in his plea and it became apparent that the judges meant to condemn her, he had her brought forward so that everyone could see her. Then her tore off her clothes, even her undergarments so that her body was laid completely bare. He then broke into such piteous lamentation at the sight of her that he caused the judges to feel superstitious fear of this handmaid and ministrant of Aphrodite. Indulging their feeling of compassion they refrained from putting her to death, and after she had been acquitted a decree was passed that no person speaking in a defendant’s behalf should indulge in lamentation, nor should the accused man or woman on trial be bared for all to see. As a matter of fact, Phryne was more beautiful in the unseen parts. Hence one could not easily catch a glimpse of her naked; for she always wore a tunic which wrapped her body closely, and she did not resort to the public baths. At the great assembly of the Eleusinia and at the festival of Poseidon, in full sight of the whole Greek world, she removed ony her cloak and let down her long hair before stepping into the water; she was the model for Apelles when he painted his Aphrodite Rising from the Sea. So, too, the sculptor Praxiteles, being in love with her, modelled his Cnidian Aphrodite from her, and on the pedestal of his Eros below the stage of the theatre he wrote an epigram: “Praxiteles hath portrayed to perfection the Passion (Eros) which he bore, drawing his model from the depths of his own heart and dedicating Me to Phryne as the price of Me. The spell of love which I cast comes no longer from my arrow, but from gazing upon Me.” He also gave her a choice of his statues, to see whether she wished to take his Eros, or his Satyr, which stood in the Street of the Tripods. She chose the Eros and set it up as a votive offering in Thespiae. Of Phryne herself the neighbors made and set up a golden statue at Delphi, on a pillar of Pentelic marble; Praxiteles executed the work … Now Phryne was very rich, and used to promise that she would build a wall about Thebes if the Thebans would write an inscription upon it, that “Whereas Alexander demolished it, Phryne the courtesan restored it”; so records Callistratus in his book On Courtesans. Aristogeiton, in the speech Against Phryne, says that her real name was Mnesarete.
— Athenaios, Deipnosophistai Book 13

As for his passage and distribution into waves and water, and earth, and stars, and nascent plants and animals, they hint at the actual change undergone as a rending and dismemberment. In addition to Dionysos he is called Zagreus or Nyktelios or Isodaites. Deaths too and vanishings do they construct, passages out of life and new births, all riddles and tales to match the changes mentioned. So they sing to Dionysos dithyrambic strains, charged with sufferings and a change wherein are wanderings and dismemberment.
— Plutarch, On the E at Delphi 9

Isodaites means “he who divides the sacrifice equally.”

One thought on “she has assembled unlawful thiasoi

  1. You know, I must say, Phryne is becoming one of my favorite heroines. It’s said that she was the possible inspiration for Praxiteles’ Aphrodite of Cnidos (the first female nude sculpture in Ancient Greek history) and a painting by Apelles of Aphrodite arising. Not to mention her super ballsy offer to fund the rebuilding of the wall of Thebes as long as they put “Destroyed by Alexander, rebuilt by Phryne the Courtesan” on it.

    Ladies today should take a few lessons from Phryne because she was over here being a straight-up queen!


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